What we do, what we should do

Everybody in the world strives to make a change but not all of us are able to do so. It is rightfully said that in order to make a change, we need to start with ourselves. We need to start with our own surrounding. We can start by small things, but it is only by doing these small actions can we really strive to make a difference. People don’t realize that ample opportunities are available to them in their immediate surroundings.

Today, there are a number of stringent issues, which need immediate attention and action. In particular, in India, we have the issue of women empowerment. Women have long been neglected in our society. They have not been given equal standing for long. We need to realize that women play a very crucial role in our nation’s development and that we can never achieve success at the cost of the lives of the girl child. Female feticide is a grave issue in our country. Sex-Selective abortion is a crime, which needs to be terminated. Many organizations in the country today work for these and many other causes related to women. They provide ample opportunities for public participation and help.

Another issue worthy of attention is environmental degradation. Global Warming has worldwide been recognized as a serious problem and people all around the globe are coming forward to make a change. We know that if mankind destroys its own environment, then it is in a way digging up its own grave. We cannot think of achieving progress at the cost of the environment because if we do that then we don’t really have a future to look up to. There are a number of environmental organizations in India like WWF, Wildlife Trust Of India, Environmental foundation of India among various others that provide various volunteering opportunities for people.

Child Labour and exploitation is another area of interest. India has the highest proportion of underweight children in the world. The level of nutrition that most children in the country have is negligibly small. Also, child education is another field to which a number of non-profit institutes like Lakshyam, smile foundation, shuddhi and many others are devoted. They provide volunteers the opportunity to impart education and teach these children various skills.

Many organizations like Friendicoes SECA, PETA, PAWS, People for animals etc. venture to help animals in distress. They also provide people an opportunity to take a stand for the animals that cannot speak for themselves. These organizations fight against animal injustice and cruelty and strive to build a peaceful world.

This shows that people who want to make a change have ample opportunities to do so today. These in turn also provide people the chance to stand up for the cause, which is close to their heart. Truly, if all of us start contributing in small ways then we can, for sure, make a huge difference. After all, it is rightly said that little drops of water make the ocean. It is these trifle actions that can help to change the world for better and all that we, as individuals, can do is start by contributing in small ways.

Why you need to help

 

Poverty is a disease that every nation, ever corner of the world is infected with. But mostly, poor people are looked down upon and treated with disregard and contempt, despite the fact that being poor is not their fault, it is probably ours. The middle class and upper middle class lives in a charade of “Status” definitions while we happily walk upon the dreams and aspirations of poor, crunching their dignity and self-respect.
This article is focused on attracting your attention towards why we need to treat the poor like humans and help them grow. As long as we are not poor, it is hard to see why we should be bothered the painful details of other’s life. But poverty lurks around ever nook of this world and as humans, it is our responsibility to do more than drop a penny in that beggar’s bowl.

 

Here are some comprehensive points that summarize why the poor need our attention:

  1. Poverty is an endless cycle:
    Poverty is a cycle that never ends. A farmers son is a farmer, a beggars’ a beggar and a sweeper’s a sweeper. The poor never have been able to figure out a way to break through Poverty’s cycle. If you ask a poor person why he/she does not send their children to school, the person will plainly tell you that they are better off with their child earning 1000 rupees a month. This way, the poor are always entangled in the cycle of low-income jobs. Those who do get to go to colleges enter by means of their caste, which completely ignores financial status. Therefore, we should help them by funding their education as and when we can or provide any means of help.
  2. More problems than solutions:
    unsolvable problems and issues surround the poor. Fatal diseases, lack of money, domestic abuse, the pressure of feeding a family of 7 or sometimes 10, all these issues greatly contribute to the mind set of the poor, who are too busy trying survive one day after the other. These issues cannot be solved without attention and outside help.
  3. Constant abuse and exploitation:
    The poor are and have been abused since long owing to their lack of resources and knowledge. Starting from the top government body to the common man getting a labor job done, each of our society’s sections have exploited the poor some way or the other. This social practice has greatly hindered their progress and deprived them of the last of hopes to ever elevate their standard of living.
  4. Stereotypical thought process:
    Rural India is still in the shackles of endless stereotypes regarding religions, caste, way of living, etc. Needless to say, the stereotypes are a big cause for the slow growth of the poor community in India. Female feticide, honor killings, not letting a woman work, not educating women etc. are practices and beliefs still prevalent in a lot of regions in India.
  5. Lack of resources and fair distribution:
    It is an undeniable fact that the resources of means in India are too largely ossificated in the hands of too less. The poor have no access to the monetary or natural resources. The poor have no means of production or trade. They are only bound to the single skill they have learnt since birth.

No number of reasons is enough for us to determine why the poor need help. It is our duty as citizens to help them grow.

Volunteerism, and why you should do it

Many of us are stuck in our everyday lives, paying bills and making way through screeching traffic; too caught up trying to make a living that we forget to live. Which maybe the peril of human society, but we are to engrossed to notice.

Amidst this mess, take a while and do something worthwhile with your time. Something you would like to do, something that makes you happy and makes the people around your happy. Rejuvenate yourself and detox the daily traffic of the roads. One of our suggestions would be to volunteer for anything you like, help the old, help the poor, help yourself! Take sometime off from the busy buzz of the city!
In case you still doubt us, read the points below and decide for yourself what you will be doing this summer!

Point #1: A better Health:
Well, moving out a little never did anyone harm, but volunteering is a little better than that! Volunteering has multiple health benefits. Since Volunteering mainly involves working outdoors and doing at least some bit of manual labor, it helps your body move out of the usual deskwork mode. Travelling to somewhere as beautiful as Leh or Assam may even cleanse your body. Additional to the natural benefits of these particular places you will also have the wonderful chance of exploring these exquisite beauties!

Point #2: A Better world:
Obviously, the whole point of volunteering is to affect the world for the better. Everyone chooses a cause they truly feel for and every cause is just. Therefore, every time you gather the courage to move out of your regular life and look around, you are taking a step forward to making the world a better place. I do not mean the clichéd ‘better world’, I mean a world where you give people hope of improving and breaking the stagnant cycle of monotony. But don’t forget, when you volunteer, you do it for yourself more than for others. It’s a win-win!

Point #3: LOADS of exploring!
You name it, you have it. You can find a volunteer opportunity in almost every corner of this world! Though it’s deeply heartwarming to see that people around the world care so much they also open endless opportunities for us to explore! So if you have been guilty on spending too much on yourself, you have the perfect excuse! Travelling was never more fun!

Point #4: Better Work life with newer skills
Volunteering helps you develop tons of interpersonal skill that you may not have gained in a closed commercial work place. It teaches you respect, love, patience and teamwork, like no other job will. Another perk of volunteering is, you may never get bored of it! And unlike maybe some of our jobs, volunteering never goes unappreciated!

Point #5: A wiser self:
Believe it or not, there is no teacher better than pain. We have been too cozy in our lives believing that our pains are the worst of their kind. Unaware that we maybe a lot better of then we think! Well, that’s what volunteering teaches you. It shows you how harsh the world can get and gives you hope to hold just a minute longer. Volunteering can be a life changing experience for you.

Point #6: A Happier Self
:
Yes, obviously, it makes you a lot happier than you thought it does. It gives you a sense of responsibility, connection and love. You begin to value yourself more for the time and effort you give into it. Just like after a heavy workout, you feel amazing about being you, you feel even better after volunteering. It helps you gain confidence and increase your self worth. In short, making you a lot happier than your usual self.

So this vacation folks, take some time out and dedicate it to the world! Remember, the more you give in, the more you get back!

Happy Volunteering!!

 

 

The Image of India

The world knows India as “Poor country”. But our poverty lies in our image, not in our bank accounts and not in our hearts. In reality, we Indians are a lot different that the stereotypical rapists we are widely famous for. India is undoubtedly an exquisite country. Yes, we have dirt congesting the streets, we have a lot of poor people, we have crime, we have corruption, but who doesn’t?! Which country in this world does not have flaws? The most developed countries of the world are also the one with highest crime rate, corruption and more. It is perhaps that because of Indian Expatriates, our fast developing economy and our abundant marvelous history, that India always makes it to the limelight across the world.

Since several years, Indians and India have striven hard to change our image in the minds of the rest of the world, but I believe it is simply a trend to hate Indian things. India’s vices are more widely known that India’s virtues. A criminal activity spreads like wild fire but the best of things never make it to world news. Lakshyam presents this article to those members of other countries out there who still cling with the traditional ‘image’ of India. This is our honest attempt at making you believe that we are a lot more than a bunch of criminals walking around.

  1. Indians are progressive and not stereotypical:
    Indians are fast pacing and are extremely adaptive to all cultures across the world. Indian culture is now a blend of traditional Indian and mainstream western culture. Making us liberal and accepting. There is always a social upheaval striving to bring down all kinds of stereotypes. Indian culture is dynamic and wonderful! Most importantly, Indians are very loving and kind to each other and to guests alike. One thing you can expect from us is, we will make sure you collect the best of memories from India!
  2. We are not so unsafe:
    After BBC’s ‘India’s Daughter’, India came to be known for it’s rape and unsafe crowd. Though factually, India doesn’t even make it to the list of top 10 rape affected countries. If you want to be safe in India or anywhere for that matter, be alert, be prepared and avoid walking alone on streets past sundown. That covered, nothing will touch you. You will be safe and sound and help will come your way whenever you need it.
  3. We are not as poor as you think:
    India is ‘Poor’. We are not even amongst the 10 most poor in the world. Again, you believe what you have been told, that India is poor. Only that it’s not. Indian poor people have ways of employment as when they chose. It is true that a large number of population is well below poverty line, but Indian government facilitates innumerable schemes that helps promise a certain wage rate as well as food rations to prevent starvation and unemployment.
  4. For us, Guests are gods incarnated:
    Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a Sanskrit saying that translates to, “A guest is god”. And we Indians absolutely live by this saying. Indians have their way of making sure that no guest leaves India unhappy with bitter memory. We are also happy to apologize and make amends in case we fail in our duty to please our guests. The Indian crowd, from ministers to comers respect guests and are delighted to help whatever way they can.
  5. India does not stink:
    People across the world like to believe that India is a pile of foul smelling garbage. True that we are not as clean as U.S.A or U.K but we do not stink. Yes, India’s waste management system is not as good as most developed countries, but that does not mean that the land of India has one foul smell associated to it. Unfortunately, people across the world have been over critical of India’s vices because, I guess, hating India is a trend. But today we ask you to break free from it, and visit India to see for yourself how beautiful we can be.

We respect our country and it’s traditions:
Despite all the formidable flaws of this nation, Indians respect India. We may not be hardcore nationalists ready to choke necks, but we certainly understand and are thankful for what we are. India as a country is far better off than even the most developed of countries. However, even today, Indians and a lot of other citizens of various other countries suffer through the torture of racism based on nationality. Yet, we will never look down on this country and will never feel inferior about being Indians.

Where to begin as a Volunteer

There are a of students and willing volunteers out there who would love volunteering but have no idea of where to begin or what to do! Some of us are not able to recognize what we can do for the society!

Here’s a brief guide to help you with where to begin in case you are still stuck on the decision making stage!

  1. Teach a skill!
    You may be fond of English, playing an instrument, Dance, music, chess or anything for that matter! Children out there are very keen to learn and would be more than delighted should you teach them something new. Preferably, it is ideal if you could teach them something that will help them in life. For example, teaching them how to type, or write or helping them with a particular subject. I am sure that all of us are well acquainted with these basic skills; so if you don’t know what to do, begin here!
  2. Spend some time
    Another wonderful way to help the society grow is to spend some time with them. Introduce them to the outer world and help them grow. The best thing to do is to take them for an outing. To a park, or a zoo or a movie! Every little interaction is a great insight for them. You can begin by sharing experiences with them and asking them about their lives. Become their friend!
  3. Read books to them
    Children in the poor section of our society are largely kept far away from the adventures of storybooks. Unfortunately, too less of them know how to read and even lesser have access to books at all. Therefore, an amazing way to help them is by reading out stories to them. All of us know how much cartoon stories have helped us grow and make way through life, let’s not let them miss out on the essentials of a good life!
  4. Elevate- Spread Awareness
    there are hundreds and thousands of social evils as well as social issues that need to be addressed. For a lot of sections of our society, something as basic as hygiene is absolutely alien as a concept. You can do your research and indulge in strategically targeting one of these issues and help a particular section with battling it.
  5. Innovate
    Observe and find out the problems of your society. Find out which one of the many faults in your community can be helped through the formation of a social enterprise! It’s as easy as beginning at home! Be aware of issues and problems around you and work your way to building an enterprise. Not only is this a great way to utilize energy, it will also be beneficial; for your college applications and jobs all through your life!

It is really as easy as starting anywhere. If you have the commitment and devotion it takes, there is no lack of ideas!

Children welfare programs in India

As a non-profit organization, Lakshyam strives to enhance the lives of the underprivileged and make them able not only to survive but to succeed in the outside world. India is a developing country which means that the number of the people in serious need of help isn’t small and here comes Lakshyam’s role in the society. It empowers women and children in all the different aspects in life and gives them hope and potential to earn their own living and be productive to their community since the country’s future relies between their hands.

With Lakshyam’s awareness of the great importance the education and social development for the kids is, it launched a children welfare program in India called “Butterfly- Child Welfare and Education”. What this program basically does is first, it works on the educational aspect with the kids like teaching them Hindi, English, Computer and dealing with technology. Second, works on the imaginative and artistic side because due to the circumstances these kids live in, they need to find a way of self-expression and let their feelings out in something. Compressing negative energy or thoughts without freedom of expression is a dangerous thing and will not let them improve properly. That’s why the program also includes classes specially made for teaching kids drawing, coloring, making handcrafts like paper pens and bags out of recycled products which they can also sell and make a living out of it and finally dancing! Third, Personal and social development of the kids. The kids live in an environment in which they are prone to catch a dangerous illness or infection and that’s why it’s extremely important for them to know how to be hygienic and take care of their health and tidiness to guarantee safety. For social development; camps, trips and outdoor activities are prepared for them to have a normal childhood and live a joyful life just like any other kid would live without feeling that they are any less from them.

Lakshyam deals with a lot of volunteers from abroad to assist in achieving the organization’s vision and for the kids to get in contact with people from different cultures and broaden their horizons about the outside world.

Kids and games. Those two words hardly come separate. Childhood is all about playing and having fun so that th at’s why Lakshyam launched another children welfare program in India called “Lakshyam Toy Library”. A toy box is put in certain schools and kids who belong to that school would volunteer one or two toys for the underprivileged to use for free and not to suffer from deprivation. Toys vary from the entertainment ones like dolls, cars and bikes to educational ones that would make them love learning even more. Now, Lakshyam has over 16 toy library all over India that helps in delivering happiness to the kids and spreading smiles on their faces.

 

Petra Iskander

Volunteer from Egypt

Lakshyam

 

 

 

 

CONQUERING WHY(s)

I still can’t believe that I’m finally here in India. To beg permission from my parents wan’t easy, it was superb difficult for the to allow me to go here since a lot of rape issue that were spread on the internet. My big family, also my relatives, and my best friends asked the same question every time they know that I’m going to have my internship in New Delhi, “Why India? Why not Europe? Why are you so weird?” And yes, they kept on warning about how should I dress, and never go home late. This caused me one thing, I didn’t bring sleeveless top at all. The stereotype about India and how they relate it with the rape cases are really annoying, it kind of frightened me out actually. “But nothing would stop me to go here,” I said to myself with a thrown fist up in the air. And those “why(s)” are my mission, to ask myself the same question, “Why actually you come to India?”

The reason why Ichose India was because Ialways believed that what Icould do & give is gonna be much more meaningful, instead if Ichose Europe as the destination. Ichose Footprints project at the first place because Ireally, truly, deeply in love with kids. The fact that this project matched my interest, gave me high hope about that. And right after, Igot here and saw the children at E-Block, Vasant Kunj, New Delhi, -which is the place where Iam teaching them right now- really moved me. Iheard someone whispered, “Now you know right why you were created 18 years ago?” It’s all about meeting my purposes in life. Ialmost got answer to my own “why”.

Those children have the biggest heart i’ve ever known. Each one of them only has one book and one pencil. They have to share eraser, sharpener, and crayon pencils.. When Icame to that place for the first place… Ihad no single idea what I was gonna face on the upcoming days. Iwas a bit afraid because they know nothing about English, yet Iknew only “Namaste” in Hindi. But Icouldn’t complain, Iwould never stop, I’d do my best. Why? Looking at their smiles curved on their faces simply touched me.

Despite of not having a proper school, -we learn under a big tree- Their excitement to learn are really on the next level. Their eargerness pumped my spirit up to teach them with everything Ihave. And it turned out they gave me lessons Icould not get from anything else in the world. A lesson about life. A lesson about never give up although your circumstances arent they way you want it to be. A lesson about how to color your life, with five crayon pencils that you have. Life is about sharing and caring, there’s nothing more beautiful than that.

I have no regrets to have come here and met all these amazing children. Iknow I’ll come back to my hometown with a new mind. Ihave challenged myself and Iknow Icould do more than I’ve ever imagined. Ihave successedfully defeated people’s “why(s)” and my own “why”. These children made me complete, Iam very grateful for this God-given oppurtunity. Afterall, this is why one should volunteer! J

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED! *Check*

 

“Blessed are those who know their life-purpose and constantly working on it whole-heartedly, in season and out season, as it’s not only to overcome their fears & staying out of their comfort zone… but also to become blessings in order to spread God’s love through their works.” – Margriet, 2016

 

India, 06/07/2016

Sharon Margriet Sumolang

a.k.a

Ma’am Owen

Indonesia

A step towards a better you, a better environment

With people overly consuming natural resources and materials, recycling of products is an option that has to be considered.

If you think that you can use a product in only one form then you’re wrong! Used wasted products can be recycled and used as different products that can still serve your needs instead of wasting materials that lead to harming the environment eventually. Not to mention that it’s a money saver process.

There are a lot of materials that can be recycled and reused in different forms like how plastic, paper, aluminum are reused in different industries. Also, you yourself can benefit from those materials at home. For example, there are people who use the empty plastic bottles in making accessories and home décor items, paper in making paper pens and toys and others use their old worn out clothes in making scarves or transform t-shirts to bags… there’s always something creative to do with your old products and transform it into a cool handmade item which you would feel proud while using it since you made it yourself.

After using something, think twice before you dispose it because there are people who wish to have quarter of what you own. You can choose to recycle those items and benefit from them yourself or transforming them into something useful for underprivileged people who need it the most or throw them in the recycle bin to help your country reduce using more natural resources and be an Eco who cares about keeping his environment clean.

 

 

Hands to Hearts